Everyone knows that the tech industry revolves around the Silicon Valley, but I'm in a different metropolitan area in the US. I'm thinking about my next move company-switch wise, and I'm wondering how much it's worth being in the Bay Area for greater access to opportunity and career development in general. Also, does this vary based on whether you want to work for Big Tech or startups?
Here's a related question :) How important is location for software engineers?
Does not being in the Bay Area hurt your career as a SWE?
Yes, but more in the sense of "Your career won't be 110% mega-optimized" as opposed to "You will likely have a bad career being outside the Bay Area". On top of that, not everyone needs to maximize their career; I feel like the vast majority of folks should deprioritize their career as they get older and develop more responsibilities outside of work.
Things are also different as you're a senior engineer. I imagine you're quite independent by now and have the hang of things - You won't get as much benefit working in-person in Silicon Valley as say a college grad straight out of school. In-person learning is far more important for earlier-in-career engineers vs. established ones.
In terms of Big Tech and startups: